VCC restricts access to facility in light of governor’s new rules

The nursing facility will tighten criteria on acceptable visitors, screen people for coronavirus

(Kevin Opsahl/Staff Photo).

(Kevin Opsahl/Staff Photo).

Vashon Community Care’s executive director says none of its residents are showing symptoms of the coronavirus and the facility is “enacting extra precautions” to protect them from it.

Kleppe made those comments in a prepared statement, which also outlined the things VCC is doing in light of Gov. Jay Inslee’s new rules surrounding nursing homes, issued late Tuesday, that will be in effect until April 9.

“We strongly believe the best defense is providing factual information and we will use every resource we have to protect our residents, team members, and families,” Kleppe said. “We have prepared to have food, supplies, and staffing in the event we have to quarantine the community. The VCC team is reaching out to family members directly to keep loved ones informed and respond to concerns.”

The statement came several hours after The Beachcomber reached out to Kleppe, who referred all questions to Kevin McNamara, the regional director of operations for Transforming Age, which oversees VCC. McNamara issued Kleppe’s statement in an email to the newspaper.

In that statement, Kleppe said VCC’s protective measures include:

• Screening team members at the beginning of each shift.

• Screening residents daily for possible signs of COVID-19, cold and flu.

• Suspending group outings for VCC residents.

• Screening out nonessential visitors to the facility.

• Asking family members of residents to speak with them without coming to VCC.

• Increasing sanitation.

Kleppe added, “Please follow the CDC recommendations to hand wash, hand sanitize, keep hands from face, cough/sneeze in your elbow, etc.”

After learning of the governor’s new rules, The Beachomber visited VCC on Wednesday morning and found that its front door had posted two signs: asking people to use hand sanitizer and wear a face mask “if you’re experiencing flu-like symptoms” before entering the facility and another suspending all visitors from entering.

“We apologize for this huge inconvenience but thank you for understanding our desire to protect against this fast-spreading virus,” said one of the signs, with Kleppe’s name on it.

Barry Foster, whose mother-in-law lives at VCC, said he and his husband are both “100% supportive” of Inslee’s new guidelines, which adults-only guests who must be screened for COVID-19 and only visit a resident’s room; screening employees and volunteers for the coronavirus at the beginning of their shift; and isolating residents who test positive for COVID-19 away from other people.

“The primary goals in Inslee’s announced guidelines align perfectly with the goals that Bruce and I share for Mary’s care and the care of all the other folks who call VCC home,” Foster wrote in an email. “We share these goals with all the staff and management at VCC. We all want the folks at VCC to remain as healthy as possible and to continue to lead as full of lives as they all can.”

He praised VCC for being “ahead of the curve” with its policies responding to potential COVID-19 cases at the facility.

“From my visits (phone and physical) with [mother-in-law] Mary these past weeks, I can tell that she and the other seniors there have not only been kept in the loop with the changing conditions as this virus has raised its ugly head, but they have also had extra attention by the staff and extra in-house activities to make up for fewer in-person visits,” Foster wrote. “Mary’s been able to educate me about concerns and safety goals regarding keeping her and her friends healthy and well.”

Foster concluded, “We may well be in the early days of the arc of this virus, but I really feel that Governor Inslee’s guidelines will help curb the spread of this threat and will be a very positive step towards maintaining the health of our and the island’s loved ones.”

Inslee’s order for nursing homes came just one day before he declared all events with more than 250 people in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties would be banned for a period of time.

That same day, with an ever-increasing number of coronavirus cases spreading around the globe, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a pandemic.

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